Limestone fragment with the head of a king

From Tell el-Amarna, Egypt
18th Dynasty, around 1350 BC

Trial piece in relief

The artistic style of the Amarna Period (1390-1327 BC) is distinctive. Human figures are often set in very un-traditional poses; they have thin necks, prominent stomachs, and their jaws are elongated. The distinctive neck and face are well illustrated in this limestone fragment, which shows a king, possibly Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV, reigned about 1390-1352 BC), wearing a plaited wig. This type of head-dress appears only in the Amarna Period. The fragment is probably a sculptor's trial piece, many of which have been found at the site.

Many reasons have been offered to explain the style of the Amarna Period, but none is entirely satisfactory. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that Akhenaten needed to make a clear distinction between the artistic output of his reign and that of previous periods.

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More information


E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 17.000 cm
Width: 12.700 cm

Museum number

EA 63631


Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society


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